Spring Bake


Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 2 arrPatio all set and spring cleaning complete, are you thinking what I’m thinking: sun’s out, bundt’s out! Always finding a reason to celebrate, there’s no better time to reward a seasonal mission well accomplished than with cake – al fresco, of course! And given my love of baking, I gladly make use of springform pans and vibrant fruit for a refreshing duo: lemony fruit-filled and almond peach ricotta cakes.

Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 4 arrFirst intrigued by Bon Appétit’s Raspberry-Ricotta Cake, a glimpse of this cake looked too tempting not to recreate. Doing just that, I use Alison Roman’s simple instructions and get ambitious. Doubling the amounts of specified ingredients, I yield twice the batter for two variations on this light and fluffy cake. Clearly, the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea or any java pick-me-up.

Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 5 arrAttesting to its simplicity, this ricotta cake is easy to make and tweak. Certain to add bright flavour, the original recipe calls for raspberries. While keeping with the necessities – flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, baking powder, salt and ricotta – is a must, this ricotta-inspired cake is not exclusive to raspberries alone. Forgoing the suggested listing, I follow most steps and include my preferred choice of berries, stone fruit and citrus for an end result that’s peachy-keen.


Bon Appetit Ricotta Cake 3 arrChanged but not compromised, my take is quite delicious and still attune with the desired moist consistency of Bon App
étit’s Ricotta Cake. Likewise, the almond topping adds texture to the mildly fragrant peach-infused cake. Equally fresh and clean on the palette, inclusion of lemon zest coupled with pockets of tart blackberries, blueberries and cherries appropriately lift the otherwise plain cake structure with bursts of bold flavour. Pleased with the overall outcome of my ricotta cakes, this duo looks prime and tastes divine as-is though can be made ultra indulgent with a dollop of whipped cream.
A piece of cake to make – and eat, once cooled – here’s a final note on any leftover fruit: blushing Bellinis, anyone?

Strawberry Peach Bellinis arrWasting not, blend equal parts of any remaining peach slices with frozen strawberries to create a fruit-fusion. From here, fill a wine glass with fruit purée – about 1/3 high – and top the amalgamated contents with sparkling wine. Feeling peachy with abundance, elevated lounging is meant to be decked out with juicy refreshments – Bon Appétit!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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Red Velvet That Will Please

 

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-8-arrWant a Valentine’s dessert that will make your special someone blush beet red? Saying “YES” to all things homemade, I have the perfect baked treat in mind. For your sweet – or sweet tooth – I’m thinking: Red Velvet Cupcakes. Satisfying for more than its V-Day symbolic hints of love – chocolate and heart-red hue – this cocoa-rich yet moist bite-size indulgence is made extra irresistible thanks to a generous smothering of cream cheese frosting. As scrumptious as it sounds, red velvet is not for everyone but, when made right, is sure to leave you with a smile.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-4-arrEnticed, yet? Love it or hate it, I’m in the mood to whip up a batch of red velvet cupcakes. Still tempting to some, red velvet persists to be a sought-after southern delight since its revival on the big screen – watch the retro hit, Steel Magnolias. Movie buff or not, however, others find nothing delectable about consuming a piece of red-dye cake that’s, too, criticized for being bland. Honestly, I can’t blame them! Also choosing to forgo the Texas band-waggon – sorry, Adams Extract – a little research is all it took to find the ‘one.’ Clearly convinced that ‘red’ can be made right, I’ve found a non-greasy red velvet cake instruction that’s highly flavourful all the while omitting oil and food colouring.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-6-arrGetting back to the basics, the start to producing a genuine ‘rouge’ cake batter is as simple as this: just ‘beet’ it! Truly, the inclusion of beetroot veg will evoke desired vibrancy without emptying an entire bottle of food colour – L-O-V-E this! Further match-made for more reasons than one, I use Pamela Moxley’s Red Velvet Cake recipe that calls on butter, equally appeasing to my desire for an oil-free batter. And as if things couldn’t get any better, directions ask that you purée the cooked and peeled beets so you’re solely left with smooth – ‘au naturel’ red – velvety liquid texture. As for the taste, this cake is not intended to be overly chocolatey nor are you left with a strong beet flavour.  In contrast, these cupcakes are mildly sweet and are all about a ‘chemical romance.’ Explanation provided: the appearance of reddish earth tones should result upon combining neutralized Dutch-process cocoa powder with buttermilk, and acids such as white vinegar and the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon, as Moxley’s steps indicate.

beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-11-arrAs for my experiment, I can attest to a fairly ‘reactive’ outcome in the test kitchen. From burgundy to crimson, the looks of lovely red are pleasantly evident and ever-changing between baking stages. A chameleon cake of sorts, that’s exactly what you want to see when attempting this vegetable-infused dessert recipe. Be bold, then, and prepare to welcome variations of red that doesn’t include lipstick or candy apple – any other shade, mind you, wouldn’t reflect an authentic beet cake.

Ultimately doing all things in love, I hope you try a scratch recipe of choice or cake mix – no judgement here – and, when the little cakes are cooled, begin to decorate with frosting: butter-cream, cream cheese or ‘roux’ icing. beet-red-velvet-cupcakes-13-arrCreating cream cheese frosting for my individual ‘reds,’ all I do is combine the following in a bowl: softened unsalted butter and cream cheese – both left out, at room temperature – icing sugar, plus a final dash of Madagascar vanilla essence. Once fluffy and ready to go, I divide the frosting into separate containers, get a piping bag and tip assembled, and do the unexpected: I use food colouring gel. It’s true but, only a few drops – promise! All in the name of happy baking, I couldn’t resist arranging a bed of edible roses. Seriously worth the addition of colour, who would deny wanting these thorn-free flowers for V-Day? Admittedly beautiful, lush, and fragrantly sweet, red velvet rosette frosted cupcakes are for the making, baking, and taking – by the dozens!

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Legends of a Fall Haul

cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-5-arrFall harvests are in, and I’m going for the season’s best – C-R-A-N-B-E-R-R-I-E-S! Between beverages, sauces or jarred condiments, this fruit – when available – is conveniently within reach at the local grocers. So, why all the excitement? Clearly, resisting not – to test a new recipe – a baker’s gonna bake! And this time, use of these fresh and vibrant ruby red crops call for the making of a zingy orange and cranberry walnut-crusted tart.

Like most pie and tart recipes, you can pair various fillings with your preferred crust recipe.  Choice is yours, and for this baking endeavour I – somewhat – follow Martha Stewart’s instructions. Similar to the original, my take on the filling uses fresh cranberries, sugar, water, and gelatin. Also calling for a cup of currant jelly and two tablespoons of cognac, I decide to do things differently and cater to my palette – I swap the currant jelly for cranberry jelly to maintain consistency, and incorporate the zest of one orange plus its juice in place of liqueur.

Yay or nay, to making changes? Well, I usually don’t like to mess with a “good thing.” cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-2-arrBut, as in this case, orange citrus is the right substitution to elevate the sharpness of cranberries and to yield an ultimate jamming filling. Being sure to use precise measurements of juice in combination with fruit peel, you can even try making a zesty lemon cranberry version like the orange variation for an ultra-tart take on this delicious recipe. Definitely worth re-making, I also recommend simmering another batch to preserve in a mason jar. Versatile in its uses, this alcohol-free orange cranberry filling is not just a filling anymore. Think of it this way: it’s a cross between fruit compote and jam that can be topped on your breakfast ‘favourite’ – toast, waffles, pancakes, yoghurt/yogurt – or as an appetizing accompaniment to Brie, Camembert or other soft cheeses. Needless to say, the enhanced cranberry filling recipe is a winning YAY!

As for the nutty crust counterpart, Martha Stewart’s listed ingredients include: finely chopped walnuts, unsalted butter, flour, salt, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla essence and ice water. cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-3-arrFrom here, and using Martha’s recipe or your own, evenly spread out the dough mixture onto the tart dish and freeze it for thirty minutes. Now ready for the oven, bake the crust at 375°F for about 40 minutes or until the shell is revealing of a golden brown colour. Wishing fellow bakers optimal results – and happy baking – here’s a helpful hint: keep a watchful eye on the cooking time for both the crust and filling or otherwise risk yielding a burnt crust, and watery – ocean spray – content of burst cranberries. Being careful – myself – this rewarding cranberry orange walnut-crusted tart wins crowds on texture and appeal. It look goods, tastes good, and remains a seasonal fruit dessert befitting of the fall season.

cranberry-orange-walnut-tart-7-arrPucker your lips sour, this cranberry-based recipe is obviously not as sweet as many other treats. With that in mind, you may choose to add more sugar to the filling mixture as you see fit. Equally packed with a load of acidity, I initially wasn’t sure if I would win-over family members with this slightly acidic ‘after,’ especially as an end to a hearty Thanksgiving meal. But, truth be told: they loved it! Serving a humble portioned square pleasantly complemented an otherwise bountiful plate. Word to the wise, then, the following might be worth remembering: heavy meals pair well with lighter desserts, and lighter meals allow room for more rich and dense cakes or pastries. With one notable day of thanks past, and another upcoming in November – American Thanksgiving – this delectable tart is not overbearing and one possible dessert route to pursue as a finale to an epic holiday meal. Above all else, those who love cranberries need not wait for a calendar event to enjoy a piece of cranberry tart – afternoon snack times are occasion enough!

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Keep Calm & Panda On

Pandaron 1 arrIt’s panda bear pandemonium! Rightfully so, everyone loves these adorably playful creatures. But if you don’t get why, here are two cute and cuddly reasons to explain: Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue. Literally translating to Canadian Hope and Canadian Joy, the aforementioned Canadian born male and female pandas cubs are recent additions to the Toronto Zoo. Beyond endearing – not to mention G.T.A.-close – I, like many other animal lovers, couldn’t miss the chance to gain a glimpse of these cuties while they’re still small-ish and in these part of the woods.

Ooh’s” and “awes” in full effect, lucky visitors get to see not one or two pandas but, the whole family. Sighting mama bear, papa bear and the twins, it’s no wonder why this rare viewing is worth the lineup. Bearing witness to panda-style habits – eating, sleeping, and repeating – I learn the charms of living the simple life. Clearly, as in this case, less is more – more pampering of the senses, that is. Pandaron 6 arr

Similarly catering to one’s desire to see and explore further, other ‘mini’ sights to admire include: the polar bear cub, white lion cubs, a couple of Canadian Lynx kittens, and Nandu the Indian Rhino calf. Observing as much as time allows, I leave this excursion with both appreciation for nature’s four-legged beauties and inspiration to re-create baked replicas of my own.

Pandaron 8 arrDusting off a reliable French Macaron recipe, anyone can make their very own ‘pandaron’ – panda macaron. Irresistibly sweet and soft – to the palette and eyes – these round delights are sure to please any panda or cookie lover. Doubling down, those who like both – fans of pandas and cookies – are definitely in for a twin-of-a-treat.

Getting my hands on the necessary ingredients coupled with elbow grease, there’s no pampering or ‘spaw’ treatment involved for this tedious task. Pandaron 7 arrMeasuring, sieving, whisking, folding, piping, and the list goes on, I feel taking a panda nap – almost, only after the cookies are done. Like the cubs’ namesake, I’m both hoping for a blotch-free outcome and joyful upon glance of completed baking sheets of bashful faces – no hot messes here, thankfully.

Pandaron 10 arrGrateful that my interpretation of the Canadian born panda cubs turned out right, I’m left as elated as the showing of the real cubs. Truly mirroring the characteristics of genuine macarons – round with a smooth domed top, and standing tall on ‘feet’ – these sugary ‘pandaron’ babies don’t fall short nor flat. Ideal in taste, size and texture, it goes to show that a trusted recipe and precision is all you need to render quality macarons. To finish my display, I couldn’t resist but to keep my ‘pandarons’ company with matcha green tea biscuit sticks – the perfect snack to complement this cookie round table.

Pandaron 9 arrFor those who are adventurous, try making other animal-inspired macarons. For the creation of lions, tigers, bears or other, simply use your imagination and follow your preferred recipe. From here, add a few drops of food colouring gels and design your cookies accordingly. Ideally, detailing is best using a contrasting colour to reveal and highlight signature lines, spots or markings of your favourite zoo animal. Though the making of macarons measure higher in difficultly than the average chocolate chip cookie, they are undeniably fun to make- for this baker, at least. All the same, the choice to buy or make is yours. Staying zen about the issue, there’s no debating what everyone will do ‘chez-moi’  all can keep calm and eat ‘pandarons.’

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

T.F.’s “Ultimate”

TFU Cheesecake 3 arrSay, “Cheese-cake!” I don’t always make cheesecake but, when I do, it must be in following Tyler Florence’s Ultimate recipe.  Seriously the best homemade cheesecake instruction I have come across ─ to date ─ let it be known:  a piece of this all-American style dessert is not for the faint of heart.  Dense, rich, and reassuringly decadent, Tyler’s take on this classic is full of flavour ─ a.k.a. saturated fatty deliciousness.  Needless to say, the anatomy of this three-part cake is telling of a very good ─ for your taste buds ─ anticipated treat:  tart fruit topping, velvety smooth filling, and a buttery cinnamon-infused graham cracker crust.

TFU Cheesecake 5 arrCare to get your own cheesecake factory up and running? Clearly I do, and you can too!  Simply remember:  all is possible with some precision and elbow grease.  So for the making of your own cheesy round, start by getting your hands on the ‘necessities’ and separately prepare each required layer.   Crackers smashed and blended with melted butter and spice, mould the dry crumbs into a cake pan and set it aside into the fridge.  Now for the filling, here’s what you’ll need:  cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla essence and lemon zest.  Filling made and crust chilled, continue by pouring the abundant batter into the cookie shell and wrap the cake tin’s exterior ─ twice, for safe measure ─ with foil.  While some recipes omit a steam bath ─ ‘bain-marie’ ─ this one calls for it.  TFU Cheesecake 7 arrAnd so, it’s a must to ensure the aluminum package is tightly sealed prior to submerging it into a roasting pan filled with hot water.  Finally ready to bake, carefully place the pan-filled contents into a preheated oven for about 45 minutes, as per Tyler’s directions.  A tad bit extra work ─ I know ─ but it’ll be worth it in the end.

Messing not with this cheesecake recipe, then, I can attest that adhering to Tyler’s steps will yield optimal results: a perfectly smooth moist cake.  And once chilled, this delicately sweet creamy cheesecake can be enjoyed ‘as is’ or made more scrumptious with the addition of a fruit topping.  TFU Cheesecake 9 arrWhile the original recipe proposes a simmering of citrus zest and blueberries, my preference lies with seasonal ‘rouge’ embellishments.  In effect, I replace Tyler’s warm blueberry lemon topping with vibrant red raspberries.  Still refreshing and bursting with bright flavour, I first enrobe the plain cheesecake canvas with a spreading of sieved raspberry preserve, and then decorate the glistening surface with orderly rows of fresh ruby berries.  ‘Et voilà,’ this presentable cake is now ready to slice and share.  Indeed living true to status, this “ultimate” cake boldly delivers in taste, texture, and appeal.  Obviously beyond words, it’s just one of those things ─ ‘c’est du fromage!’

© DISHFUL, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

Pithiviers aux Amandes

Pithiviers 1 arrWhen I think of aromatic breads, divine pastries and scrumptious cakes, French recipes and masters of the trade definitely come to mind. Truly synonymous with all things deliciously baked, it’s no wonder I celebrate this year’s Epiphany with ‘galette des rois.’  Loosely translated to ‘king cake,’ this regional favourite is made and enjoyed to commemorate the arrival of the Wise Men.

More pleasing for foodies, ‘pithiviers’ generally refers to a filled puff pastry pie that can be either sweet or savoury. For the making of this particular ‘galette,’ I decide to encase two sheets of puff pastry with almond frangipane.  Just like Martha Stewart, I follow her frangipane recipe and baking instructions ‘to a T.’  Keeping things real-ly honest, however, I forgo the making of ‘pâte feuilleté’ from scratch and stand by a very good purchase of pre-made ‘quality’ frozen puff pastry.  Great news is:  “You can too!” Still buttery, flaky and rich, store-bought puffy pastry is my kind of “good thing!”Pithiviers 2 arr

Recipe, now simplified, I expedite the process slightly further by spreading refrigerated ─ not frozen ─ frangipane filling onto one of two cut rounds ─ 9 inches in diameter ─ of puff pastry. Being sure not to spread the almond filling right to the edge of the pastry dough, I continue by brushing egg wash along the circumference of the first disc, then cover it with the second cut sheet, and finally seal the two.  Adhering to the remaining steps, I remove the chilled encased ‘pithiviers’ from the icebox and prepare the final stages.  For its completion, here’s what to do:  brush the domed exterior with the remainder of egg-wash, score the top with a pattern of choice, and finally bake the ‘galette’ into a preheated oven for the specified time.Pithiviers 4 arr

Time-elapsed and house-filled with the scent of victoriously baked sweetness, here’s the end result: it looks, smells, and tastes nothing like “store-bought!”  Golden on the outside and delicately perfumed with a creamy nutty interior, this take on almond ‘pithiviers’ is indicative of ‘kingly’ flavour and desired light crispy texture.  Also saving time and exceeding expectation, celebrations are clearly in order with this share-worthy pastry ─unequivocally, a piece of cake!

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Season’s Eatings!

Gingerbread Cookies & Milk 1 arrIt’s the final countdown? Oh yes, Christmas is only five days away and I can’t wait!  With less than a week to go, last-minute shoppers are checking off lists, vacationers are travelling, and families are undoubtedly gathering.  In the meantime, I like to spread holiday cheer with my own baking tradition of:  very good, freshly made ─ with love ─ gingerbread cookies.Gingerbread Cookies & Milk 2 arr

Softer than ginger snaps and slightly chewy to the bite, whipping up a double batch of Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread Cookies is one of my favourite “go-to” holiday recipes. I’ve made these cookies so many times, and for good reason:  it never fails!  Gingerbread Cookies & Milk 4 arrAlso inclusive to sugar, butter, and spices ─ ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves ─ use of these scrumptious ingredients will fill your home with the festive aromas of the holidays.  For the creation of your very own homemade cookies and bonus ─ baker’s potpourri ─ here’s a quick sum of Martha’s tips that are worth recounting:  chill the dough prior to handling, roll it out to 1/8 inch and, however obvious, be careful not to over-bake your cookies given that baking time varies dependent on the size of the cookie dough cut-outs.  Ultimately, follow the listed instructions and you’ll have a crowd-pleasing plateful of good eats awaiting family, friends and guests alike.

Gingerbread Cookies & Milk 6 arrIn an ode to joyful baking, I’m more than happy to create desserts from scratch. But if baking is not your ‘forte,’ no worries!  Luckily, these flavourful cookies can be made by one you know and decorated by all.  In essence, everyone’s welcome to embellish gingerbread cookies with gumdrops, candy toppings, sprinkles, and other sweet additions.  Likewise, opting for royal icing and the ‘usual suspects’ are the typical choice.  But, I have another plan for mine.  This year, I decide to treat my gingerbread cookies to three distinct pairings:  I combine dried fruits/nuts ─ cranberries, crystalized ginger, chopped pistachios ─ with milk, dark and white chocolates.  Evidently, the visiting Santa ─ ‘chez-moi’ ─ has a sophisticated palette and why wouldn’t he? He’s a foodie, too!  On that note, I’ll be sure to leave a handful of chocolaty dipped gingerbread biscuits with its classic counterpart ─ cookies and milk, both!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

“Same, Same, but Different – but, Still the Same”

Pear Cake 2 arrIt’s as easy as, “A piece of cake!” Honest to goodness, there are so many reasons why I enjoy baking and yielding successful results is definitely one of them. While I’m no Martha Stewart, it’s no surprise that I do favour her tried and tested recipes.  After all, if she can do it so can I ─ right? Well, there’s one way to find out ─ let’s get baking!  With the right recipe and attitude, I approach Martha’s take on the familiar classic ─ upside-down pineapple cake ─ but, like her, use an alternative fruit for this fall-esque treat:  “Pear Upside-down Cake.”Pineapple Cake arr

Still pear-trending, I use green d’Anjou pears though I find this versatile recipe can be altered by using apples.   Continuing with instructions, I prep the pears ─ wash, peel, core and slice the fruit ─ and separately create the topping and batter.  Once the three parts are ready for assemblage, it’s time to layer:  topping first, pour the sweet butter and brown sugar mixture into a cake pan; proceed by carefully arranging the pear crescents; and finally, pour the cake batter onto the pears and use an off-set spatula to evenly spread it out to the pan’s edge.Pear Cake 1 arr

Following this recipe’s rules is, indeed, “a good thing.” But for extra flavour and warmth, I added a touch of fragrant cinnamon spice to the batter.  While you may omit spices altogether, be mindful that a hint will suffice as introduction of bold tastes may overpower the mild profile of this pear cake.  Once ready for pre-heated treatment, I set this cake off into the oven and bake it accordingly ─ as per Martha’s suggestions ─ at 350F and for 45 minutes.  Pear Cake 4 arrPleasing to the eye and palette, the end result is delicious:  a glistening burst of caramelized softened pears that are neatly embedded into moist ─ almost pudding-like ─ yellow cake.  Undeniably achievable, this ringed pear cake recipe is befitting of baking aficionados and dessert-lovers alike.  A same-old-different take on a homemade treat that is both enjoyable to prepare and share by the piece, slice or plate ─ happy eating!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

A Shapely Pear

Pear Crisp 3 arrFall is here, and with it comes an abundance of seasonal fruit. And thanks to a neighbourly gift, my effortless reaping of pears not only leaves me with a surplus of ‘au naturale’ shapely tree ornaments but, too, some baking inspiration. With no shortage of semi-firm green pears in sight, these treats can be kept to have and to hold ─ in a basket ─ before they fully ripen.  Then again, why wait?

Loving the pear shape? Undeniably well-suited for an elegant affair, pursuit of a classic poached pear recipe is the clear route for those who want to keep its curvaceous integrity. But when life’s offerings are plenty ─ and ‘boiling’ over a stove top can be averted ─ here’s what I do with all that fruit: peel, cut and get baking! For fancy taste without all the fancy work, I keep up with rusticity and follow a delectably simple country staple ─ golden raisin and walnut pear crisp.  Pear Crisp 2 arr

It’s Thanksgiving in a dash ─ well, almost! Courtesy of fragrant cinnamon spice, bites of toasty warm reminders of the upcoming holiday are thankfully achieved via homely fruit crisp. Equally pleasing to my ears, this shareable dessert can be made and altered to match one’s taste. Getting started then, select your preferred seasonal harvest ─ apples, pears, peaches, berries, etc. ─ and prepare the two main parts: a sweet fruit bottom and crunchy oat topping.

No tricks and all treat, this pear crisp is consistent with the following ‘fillings’: cinnamon, sugar, lemon ─ juice and zest ─ golden raisins and sliced pears. For your take, you can even try elevating the mixture by soaking the raisins in brandy or orange juice in addition to adding variant dried fruits such as cranberries or candied ginger. Pear Crisp 4 arrIn continuum, the soon-to-be crunchy topping can be made by separately ‘hand-mixing’ these dry ingredients: brown sugar, flour, rolled oats, salt, walnuts, and cold butter. ‘Et voilà,’ a complication-free fruit layer and oat topping that is ready to be poured into a greased oven-proof deep dish, and baked at 375°F until bubbly and golden brown. Though only a few, here are some friendly key reminders: preheat the oven, bake the crisp for approximately 40 minutes, and proceed to cool for roughly 20 minutes. Falling for these instructions, here’s the ultimate scoop: this baked bountiful of pear-licious crisp is best enjoyed at room temperature, and even more decadent when served ‘à la mode’ for a match-made mouthful ─ tenderly baked pears paired with rich vanilla ice cream.

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Froyo Inferno

Banana ChocoFro arrHot and hazy days call for an ice-box favourite ─ say it is so, “ICE CREAM!”  Sweet, creamy and undoubtedly refreshing, who wouldn’t want to indulge in this summertime favourite?  I know I do, but with another ‘seasonal must’ beckoning ─ teenie weenie swimsuits ─ dreaded bouts of foreseeable guilt supersede advanced signs of temptation.  Fortunately, sunny days remain bright with an evasion of processed “sugar-free” and “fat-free” alternatives in exchange for homemade batches of fruit-flavoured frozen treats.

Banana Fro arrRecipes abound, there’s no shortage of instructions that call upon the usual suspects ─ sugar, cream, eggs, vanilla ─ and use of an ice-cream maker.  Having both the ingredients and the machinery ‘chez-moi,’ the common necessities aren’t an issue.  What it really comes down to, however, is the “s” word ─ SUGAR!  And so, I continue to scour the net and happily find an effortless frozen recipe that calls for two things:  bananas, and a food processor.  Ultimately working with a blank canvas, be brave and personalize your soon-to-be congealed treat with tasty additions ─ dash of cinnamon, a handful of nuts for added crunch, and even a tablespoon or two of either peanut butter or Nutella.

Blueberry FroYo arrStarting with the basics, follow these steps:  first peel and slice ripened bananas, then place cut pieces into a freezer-proof container, and freeze for a few hours or overnight.  How many bananas?  Good question!  As a rule of thumb, you can start with three but, just remember:  if you use more, you’ll get more.  So, it really depends on how large a batch you seek.  Once frozen, place the banana slices into a food processor and keep pulsing ─ about three to five minutes ─ until you yield a smooth consistency likened to soft-serve.  Finally, enjoy this naturally sweet delight immediately or store it in the freezer ─ once again ─ for a more solidified confection.  Requiring minimal ingredients but resulting in superior taste, it truly doesn’t get any easier than this.  So easy, in fact, I couldn’t resist dividing my potassium-rich batch into two and by proceeding to blend it with some cocoa powder ─ ‘et voilà,’ my very own chocolaty banana ice-cream.

Strawberry FroYo arrHooked on something wonderful, why stop now?  Equally achievable, making homemade strawberry and blueberry frozen yogurt is next on my list.  Courtesy of Just A Taste, I adhere to directions that call for three ingredients:  four cups of berries, ½ cup of yogurt, and three tablespoons of honey.  Like the banana recipe, begin with your choice of frozen berries and pulse the fruit using a food processor.  Catering to my taste, I combine the frozen fruit purée with ½ cup of thick and creamy Balkan-style yogurt, in addition to Manuka honey.  So far so good, I pour the vibrant batch of semi-frozen yogurt into a temperature-safe container and leave it in the freezer to solidify.  That’s it ─ done and done!

FroYo Palette arrAs for overall impressions, taste is not an issue so much as texture.  Clean and refreshing to the palette, both berry-inspired frozen yogurts are light and far from saturated ─ no cream, no refined sugar, no problem?  Not quite!  As any ice-cream maker well knows, sugar helps reduce the formation of ice crystals.  Honey, on that note, has purposefully been incorporated into this somewhat health-conscious recipe.  Making a valiant appearance, however slight, the ‘sweet stuff’ ─ agave nectar or other sweetener ─ does not share similar proportions as one would typically find in the rich custard original.  That said, the absence of fat and white sugar in this recipe indicates a less than creamy outcome that fares closer to a ‘granita.’  Needless to say, this fro-yo recipe may cater to some but not all.  On the plus side, there’s no denying this:  bright authentic taste of hand-picked strawberries trump any artificially-packed tub load.  So is fro-yo a go go?  I’d say so!  It’s definitely good as-is, and worth repeating using an ice-cream maker, at least for curiosity’s sake ─ churn baby churn!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.